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Education and Employment Legislation Committee
Australian Research Council

Australian Research Council

ACTING CHAIR: I welcome representatives from the Australian Research Council. Professor Thomas, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Prof. Thomas : Thank you, no, I don't wish to make an opening statement.

Senator KIM CARR: Professor Thomas, I noticed in the budget papers there is a new Australian Antarctic science initiative, $35.7 million over four years. The Australian Research Council are part of that initiative, aren't you?

Prof. Thomas : Yes, we have a Special Research Initiative announced that will be $56 million over seven years.

Senator KIM CARR: How much of that is the ARC responsible for?

Prof. Thomas : That will be a Special Research Initiative like the other Special Research Initiatives that have run under the ARC's remit in the past.

Senator KIM CARR: That's not what I'm asking. How much of that money is coming out of the ARC?

Prof. Thomas : All of that money.

Senator KIM CARR: The total?

Prof. Thomas : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: In the past, you've had Special Research Initiatives which have actually been topped up. Certainly that was my experience.

Ms Harvey : In some cases, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: But there have been a few since 2013 where you haven't been topped up. It's actually come out of your appropriation, hasn't it?

Ms Harvey : Yes, that's correct, and that did happen before 2013 as well.

Senator KIM CARR: My recollection is that most of them were topped up. I've got a list here, in fact, if you'd like to go through them, but I think you'll find that they were.

Ms Harvey : Most of them, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: The tropical health—how much was that for? That was one that wasn't topped up?

Ms Harvey : Forty-two million dollars.

Senator KIM CARR: There was another one for the Antarctic—that wasn't topped up, was it?

Ms Harvey : No, $24 million.

Senator KIM CARR: Were there any others since 2013?

Ms Harvey : We had a Special Research Initiative for juvenile diabetes, $35 million.

Senator KIM CARR: Was there one for dementia?

Ms Harvey : There was $26 million for dementia.

Senator KIM CARR: That's all come out of your budget, hasn't it—redirection?

Ms Harvey : Yes. We've conducted them as Special Research Initiatives out of our budget.

Senator KIM CARR: Has there recently been one for Defence housing?

Ms Harvey : No.

Prof. Thomas : No.

Senator KIM CARR: You're not doing any work in Defence housing?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator KIM CARR: Is this $56 million on top of the previous $24 million?

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Prof. Thomas : It will be a new Special Research Initiative.

Senator KIM CARR: And that's to make up for the imminent demise of the Antarctic CRC?

Prof. Thomas : We have an existing Special Research Initiative, the Antarctic gateway, which is a terminating investment, and then we have announced a new Special Research Initiative, which—

Senator KIM CARR: What I'm putting to you is that there's a CRC for the Antarctic, and that's coming to an end in 18 months—

Prof. Thomas : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: because the government has restricted the longevity of these CRCs, hasn't it?

Ms Harvey : That would be a matter for the Industry portfolio.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, of course. But that is the context of this, is it not?

Ms Harvey : No. This Special Research Initiative is with regard to Antarctic science.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, but it's in the context of the fact that the CRC for the Antarctic cannot secure additional money.

Ms Harvey : That would be a matter for the Industry portfolio.

Senator KIM CARR: You say that the funding will go out to eligible organisations in 2018-19. How do you define 'eligible organisation'?

Prof. Thomas : The ARC Act allows applications for ARC funding from Australian universities. There can be partners in those applications, but the application has to come through a university or AIATSIS.

Senator KIM CARR: But in the previous ARC Special Research Initiatives, James Cook, in regard to tropical health, and the University of Tasmania, in regard to the Antarctic, were declared as the only eligible organisations?

Ms Harvey : That's correct. That's before Professor Thomas's time. And that's correct—that on occasion there are targeted Special Research Initiatives. But this one, as you've already said, is an open call.

Senator KIM CARR: So it will be open?

Ms Harvey : Yes, we envisage it to be open to table A and table B providers.

Senator KIM CARR: The measure is being administered by the department of industry, though, isn't it?

Prof. Thomas : The Special Research Initiative will be administered by us.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, but the overall initiative, the Australian Antarctic science initiative, is being administered by the department of industry, isn't it?

Ms Harvey : That may be the name of their budget measure, but—

Senator KIM CARR: But it's not to be confused with your budget measure?

Ms Harvey : No, that's right.

Prof. Thomas : It's a separate budget measure.

Senator KIM CARR: And the measure that's listed by the environment department—is that a separate one again?

Ms Harvey : We would say that's a related one, and the funding is coming from a range of different sources. So of course that's a related one for us.

Senator KIM CARR: So is it not the same initiative?

Ms Harvey : I think there's on overarching explanation in the Environment portfolio budget statements. And then we have a very specific initiative listed in ours.

Senator KIM CARR: I understand that under your act there is a specific legislative requirement, so it has to be very specific. But I'm wondering why it is that there's this overarching description in the environment department which seems to me to be describing the same event.

Ms Harvey : We would call that just a cross-referencing under the portfolio budget statements—

Senator KIM CARR: Not duplication?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator KIM CARR: You're not being asked to do the environment department's work, are you?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator KIM CARR: You're getting a subcontracting fee for that?

Ms Harvey : No.

Prof. Thomas : No.

Senator KIM CARR: So where's the money coming from?

Prof. Thomas : It's coming from the existing ARC allocation.

Senator KIM CARR: So other programs will be reduced to pay for it?

Prof. Thomas : As to the impact on other programs, we've had a look at this. Given that the total cost of this is a small percentage of the ARC budget, the overall impact should be, we think, about 0.3 per cent on success rates.

Senator KIM CARR: So it's coming out of discovery or out of linkages?

Prof. Thomas : Across all of them.

Senator KIM CARR: What—fifty-fifty? How do you determine that?

Ms Harvey : When we were doing the calculations as to the impact on success rates, we looked at it across all schemes. We'll work on where we will actually look at doing that allocation next year.

Senator KIM CARR: You haven't determined that yet?

Ms Harvey : No, because we do those the year before.

Senator KIM CARR: Will it be the case that you could take the whole 50—well, next year's budget? There'll be a profile, won't there? It will be across the eight years?

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Have you got the profile sorted out yet?

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Can we have a look at that? What's the profile?

Ms Harvey : It's four, eight, eight, eight, eight, eight and four.

Senator KIM CARR: So it's not going to be divided evenly across both of those programs?

Ms Harvey : That's something we'll determine when we're doing our calculations for our budgets next year.

Senator KIM CARR: Now can I turn to one of my favourite topics, your impact study. You know, I've been concerned about the sloppiness of this whole exercise. When I read your guidelines, I became even more concerned. Before we get into the actual detail of the administrative arrangements, how much of the research budget do you think this impact assessment will cover?

Ms Harvey : I think the first thing to note is that it's not a comprehensive exercise.

Senator KIM CARR: It's certainly that. We'd agree with that.

Ms Harvey : ERA is a comprehensive exercise; the Engagement and Impact Assessment is a selective exercise. So when you ask the question about the budget, are you talking about the budget as allocated, or as—

Senator KIM CARR: No, no—not the administrative budget. How much of the research budget? If it's said that universities are spending nearly $10 billion a year on research, how much of that $10 billion would be affected by this measure?

Prof. Thomas : In the way the methodology has been set up, you'll be aware that the universities have an opportunity to showcase research across each of the two-digit fields of research. So, in that sense, it should provide insight into research in all of the disciplines beyond medical science.

Senator KIM CARR: How much is that, do you think? As a percentage of the research budget, how much would be applicable to this measure?

Prof. Thomas : I think that would be difficult to quantify until we have gone through the exercise. As you know, we are also doing the companion exercise, ERA, for the fourth time.

Senator KIM CARR: But it won't be applied just at the two-digit fields of study, will it?

Ms Harvey : Impact and engagement is at the two-digit.

Senator KIM CARR: So it's only the two-digit? You should be able to tell me what percentage of the research is conducted at two-digit fields, then—can't you?

Ms Harvey : Again, I'd like to say that it's a selective exercise. There's a low-volume threshold. People can opt in.

Senator KIM CARR: I'm getting that. I'm not asking that question. I want to know what you expect will be the extent of this exercise.

Ms Harvey : The way that the methodology is set up depends on whether people meet the low-volume threshold. And we're doing ERA this year, which has a flow-on effect to the low-volume threshold for engagement impact, so—

Senator KIM CARR: So five per cent?

Ms Harvey : I wouldn't be able to comment on that until we have completed the exercise.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you think about five per cent?

Ms Harvey : I wouldn't like to estimate it. I'd like to have a look at the evidence.

Senator KIM CARR: All right. Well, let's just go through it. I want to go to your guidelines specifically, because you're about to open up the great treasure trove of the ARC to this new framework, aren't you? Applications are now being invited?

Ms Harvey : It's open—submissions are open.

Senator KIM CARR: Right now?

Prof. Thomas : Yes.

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Good. And the framework says that there's going to be a number of panels established. Is that the case?

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Prof. Thomas : Five panels.

Senator KIM CARR: What are they going to cost us?

Ms Harvey : We have an allocation of money across the years with regard to developing this. But until we've actually done the assessment—we're going to estimate how much it costs for that, but we need to have a look. So, at the moment, we've appointed our panel chairs; the five panel chairs have been announced. Then we'll have our panels that sit underneath that. So, as you can imagine, we're very interested to make sure that, when the submissions come in and when that's closed, we have sufficient coverage across that.

Senator KIM CARR: So you've got no idea how much it's going to cost?

Ms Harvey : We have some estimates. I can get those for you, if you like. I don't have them off the top of my head.

Senator KIM CARR: You don't have them available?

Ms Harvey : I can see if we can get those.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you very much. And you've just appointed the chairs of these panels, have you—just the chairs?

Ms Harvey : Yes, we've appointed and publicly announced the chairs, and we're in the midst of finalising the appointments of our panels, but I note that we do have some moving feasts, as we do once we've had a look at those submissions.

Senator KIM CARR: I see.

Prof. Thomas : The daily rate for the chair of a panel is $960, and for a member of a panel it's $768.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. How many people will be on these panels?

Ms Harvey : As I said, that depends on the shape of the submissions as they come in. We might be expecting 10 to 20 on a panel. It depends.

Senator KIM CARR: I'm interested in some specifics, then, because you describe this as a moving feast.

Ms Harvey : It's important to reflect the nature of the submissions that are coming in.

Senator KIM CARR: Can you explain to me what the quantity indicators are? They're regarded as holistic. What does the term 'holistic' refer to?

Ms Harvey : Similar to the way that ERA is actually looked at, there is a range of data presented to our panels, and they look at how they all fit together. Because we don't have a homogenous university system in Australia, it's important to note that we don't have what we call a leading indicator that you could use to assess how good the impact is or how good the quality is if you're looking under ERA. It's important that the information is presented to experts in the area and that they determine what the answer will be. We don't have a leading indicator that you could do as a formulaic answer.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. So, there would be no specifications on what will be weighted in these assessments?

Ms Harvey : Can I clarify? You're talking about the indicators like cash support from end users and total HERDC income?

Senator KIM CARR: I'm just reading your guidelines. I wanted to know what the words mean.

Ms Harvey : Those are the specified indicators, and there are no weightings applied to those.

Senator KIM CARR: That's right, no weightings, but you'll have a look at them in a holistic way?

Ms Harvey : Yes, using the exact methodology that we use for ERA, where indicators are presented.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. I'm wondering how we get any transparency in that sort of arrangement?

Prof. Thomas : The assessments are undertaken by folk who have expertise across a range of disciplines. It's that principle of expert review.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. This is where you use narratives, is that right? Narratives are the way in which you explain the value of the research? This is a two-digit field of study we're talking about, isn't it?

Ms Harvey : Yes, Senator.

Senator KIM CARR: A narrative on a two-digit field of study?

Ms Harvey : No, in actual fact it is under the two digit, but the narrative can the about an element within that or a particular field that sits underneath that that the university has chosen to submit and highlight. They might have something very particular that they would like to highlight on oncology or something like that, so that would come under one of the Health two digits. It could be quite specific or it could be broader depending on the nature of the type of research at that university.

Senator KIM CARR: Submissions have been open for a little while now, since 16 May. How are they going?

Ms Harvey : They're going well.

Senator KIM CARR: How many have you had?

Ms Harvey : We've been in contact with all of the universities. They're all working on various elements of it.

Senator KIM CARR: How many submissions have you actually received?

Ms Harvey : They're not due to be finalised yet. The universities are in the process of uploading and looking at a range of different information. I think it's important to wait until it's finalised.

Senator KIM CARR: So, you've had none?

Ms Harvey : They're not due to be finalised yet. We have a range of submissions that have started to be made on different elements, which is what we would expect at this stage.

Senator KIM CARR: You've had very few then—is that what you're saying?

Ms Harvey : No, I'd say we've been in contact with nearly every university.

Senator KIM CARR: That's different to how many you've received.

Ms Harvey : If you want to class received as complete, then that's not true, because we're in the process. There's a whole process you do to be finalised.

Senator KIM CARR: On page 8 of the book, it talks about the reference period for the impact study being six years and the reference period for the associated research being 15 years. How did you reach those conclusions?

Ms Harvey : We have a number of working parties that we've been working with, and technical working groups and a steering committee. We looked at information from different jurisdictions—the UK looks at this—and looked at how we can look at the information.

Senator KIM CARR: Who decided those periods of six and 15 years?

Ms Harvey : They were recommended to us by the steering committee, and the ARC, in conjunction with the minister, decided the reference periods.

Senator KIM CARR: Was it on an arbitrary basis? Was there any science behind that, or was it best guess?

Ms Harvey : No. It was based on the experience of other jurisdictions, and then looking at the range of information and submissions we'd received.

Senator KIM CARR: I'll go through this then: so that you have a holistic approach which allows for maximum flexibility based on narratives, which will go to an assessment panel, and then there will be 'panel consensus'—on page 11. What happens if the panels can't reach consensus?

Ms Harvey : I'm not sure that we have to tackle that one until we get there. It's very similar. We have the same process for ERA.

Senator KIM CARR: ERA has a bit more science behind it, that's all.

Ms Harvey : Thank you for that!

Senator KIM CARR: Yes. We'll continue to thank you for it! That's why I don't want it corrupted by this.

Ms Harvey : I think it's important to know they are panels of experts who look at that information. We have a methodology they look at. As you say, there are the indicators as well the narratives—ways that the universities submit their information, which has data underpinning it in the engagement side. And then the panels sit together.

Senator KIM CARR: Is there an appeal mechanism built into this process.

Ms Harvey : No, there is no appeal—

Senator KIM CARR: No appeals! Gee! And you say you will publish them in a national report.

Ms Harvey : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: When will that be?

Ms Harvey : Early 2019 at this point is when we envisage publishing that.

Senator KIM CARR: There'll be a handbook published as well?

Ms Harvey : Yes. Do you mean the evaluation?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes—would that be right?

Ms Harvey : Yes. We publish all of the resources and information that are given to our panels, as well as the outcomes.

Senator KIM CARR: The handbook gets published after the process is completed?

Ms Harvey : That's correct. It is exactly the same as ERA. We use the same methodology there.

Senator KIM CARR: Will the panel members have copies of the handbook?

Ms Harvey : Yes, they will.

Senator KIM CARR: After they have done the assessments?

Ms Harvey : No, it's to assist them in doing their assessments.

Senator KIM CARR: How are you going to persuade people that this process actually has transparency, has accountability and is open to proper appeals, given that there are no appeals, and that it is not eminently rortable?

Ms Harvey : We—and I say this all the time—look at the same process we use for ERA, which has exactly the same elements you have just described there. The things we do are: publish outcomes; universities under ERA are able to see the dashboards of the information that was used by the RECs they're submitted and how that is profiled; publish all of the handbooks on how the expert review is done, and we will do exactly the same for engagement and impact; as well as publishing all of the narratives that are sent to us, unless there is a commercial in confidence. As we release the results we also release all the information that was supplied.

Senator KIM CARR: You say it's not rortable?

Ms Harvey : It's the first time we're doing the first full round of it. We are confident that in being able to, and being clear that we are publishing this information, that we are publishing how things are being determined, that we have minimised that as far as possible.

Senator KIM CARR: All the indicators are quite discursive, aren't they?

Ms Harvey : Yes, that's true.

Senator KIM CARR: That makes them rortable.

Ms Harvey : There are set indicators under the engagement framework. Under the impact, it is all narrative.

Senator KIM CARR: The whole process is quite opaque. That makes it rortable.

Ms Harvey : We will be publishing submissions.

Senator KIM CARR: Really?

Ms Harvey : We will.

Senator KIM CARR: Based on these narratives?

Ms Harvey : They will be published.

Senator KIM CARR: They'll be hilarious. Thank you very much. How much did you say this initiative was costing overall?

Ms Harvey : $11.2 million, across five years.

Senator KIM CARR: Can I go through some matters in regard to recommendations that have been received. What's happening with the recommendations for the Watt report on business and end-user engagement?

Ms Harvey : Which ones in particular?

Senator KIM CARR: Wasn't $127 million was made available for this in MYEFO?

Ms Harvey : For the Watt?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, for Watt's recommendations.

Ms Harvey : The ARC has only a couple of things in that. The rest would be a matter for the department.

Senator KIM CARR: But did you get any of that money?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator KIM CARR: None?

Ms Harvey : Not to my recollection. No.

Senator KIM CARR: Is that right?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator KIM CARR: I'll come back to that with the department. Have you done anything about the review into the Watt review's assessments on applications for competitive grants, to ensure they're particularly of sufficient quality—recommendation No. 9?

Prof. Thomas : We continue to work with the sector. As you'll understand, success rates in grants are a function of how many applications come in, and it is about working with institutions to try to guide the quality of those applications over time by reflecting data back on success rates to the institutions, and continuing a conversation about what we can collectively do.

Senator KIM CARR: Is that what you've done about Watt's recommendations in this regard?

Ms Harvey : We've done quite a bit of work with individual institutions with regard to their applications coming in so that they've got information about the quality of their applications that are coming in to us. They can then look at what they can do at their end with regard to that. We always have a look to make sure that the process by which we are looking at applications is the best possible process, that our information is clear about what's involved, and trying to partner with the universities with regard to where there are applications coming in that are not near what we'd call the quality threshold. We've been working on that for quite some time.

Senator KIM CARR: What are the success rates at the moment for both the programs?

Prof. Thomas : In the round of discovery grants for funding starting in 2018 the success rate was 18.9 per cent. For 'discovery early career researchers awards', that same year it is 16.3 per cent; for 'laureate fellowships', 15.2 per cent; 'future fellowships', 30.9 per cent; and 'discovery Indigenous', 32.4 per cent.

Senator KIM CARR: Is that up or down?

Prof. Thomas : On discovery projects, for example, that is slightly up from the previous year, where it was 17.8 per cent. It is slightly down in 'discovery early career researchers', from 16.7 to 6.3. It is up for laureates, from 12.9 to 15.2. It is exactly the same for 'future fellowships' and slightly down for 'discovery Indigenous'. The one I didn't mention earlier—a number I didn't mention earlier—was the schemes: industrial transformation training centres, where we have 2017 data and the success rates there are up significantly on 2016.

Senator KIM CARR: What's the number there, please?

Prof. Thomas : In training centres it's 34.6 per cent in 2017, compared to 22.2 per cent in 2016. In the industrial transformation research hubs, in 2017 the success rate is 60 per cent compared to 45.4 per cent in 2015.

Senator KIM CARR: With regard to some of the other recommendations that Watt made in terms of the research connections, of course the industry department is running innovation connections. Have you had any consultation with them with regard to the ARC's engagement with that program?

Prof. Thomas : No, Senator.

Senator KIM CARR: None at all?

Prof. Thomas : No.

Senator KIM CARR: What about Watt's recommendations with regard to the rate of priority being given to business awarding Linkage grants. What's your progress in terms of looking at that matter?

Prof. Thomas : We're just getting to the end of a year's worth of continuous Linkage grants. We're yet to evaluate that as a program. We've had positive feedback from a variety of sources, including industry, about the shorter time frames to announcement. We've had some mixed feedback from some of the universities who would prefer to batch applications rather than have them be continuous.

Senator KIM CARR: Sorry, you need to explain that to me. When you batch applications, what do you mean by that?

Prof. Thomas : Pick a discrete number of internal deadlines rather than accepting applications at any time throughout the year.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. So they want to change your administrative practices?

Prof. Thomas : In the cases we've heard about, they would see it as administratively easier for their research officers.

Senator KIM CARR: How does that help business? That's the point of the exercise.

Ms Harvey : That's one of the things we're going to have a look at. After we've done a full year of continuous Linkage, which we haven't as yet, we are going to do a review. We've planned a review on that to look at how that's worked. As Professor Thomas has said, we've had good feedback from business, but we need to make sure how that works and assess how we've gone against that Watt provision, and if we need to make any changes to rules for the future.

Senator KIM CARR: Has there been any conversation about what is meant by business? There's been a longstanding discussion about how you define business with regard to Linkage.

Prof. Thomas : At the moment, our Linkage scheme includes a variety of types of business, both for profit and not for profit. It includes government departments. We encapsulate all of that at the moment.

Senator KIM CARR: Has there been a discussion about redefining business in terms of the administration of this program?

Ms Harvey : We've been having a discussion about looking at the pattern of proposals that are coming forward to us and what the phrase 'business' means. We haven't made any changes to our definitions as yet, but that's what we're keen to have a look at in the review for the next set of rules.

Senator KIM CARR: Are you under pressure to make it only for commercial operations?

Ms Harvey : No, I don't believe we're under pressure to do that.

Prof. Thomas : We haven't taken any decisions. We certainly need to look at the data and look at the time series to see what the patterns are before we can understand the data.

Senator KIM CARR: Are you considering any changes to the administrative structures which would affect the quality of applications?

Ms Harvey : Like what, Senator? I'm sorry, I'm being a bit obtuse here.

Senator KIM CARR: I wouldn't say that about you at all, Ms Harvey. I think this issue of who actually applies is a critical one for the ARC.

Ms Harvey : Right.

Senator KIM CARR: Just as there's been an issue about how you measure the components of an application, whether it be in kind or in cash, there are issues about whether it's another government entity or whether it is actually a private business. If you were to exclude government entities, I suspect you'd have very few applications. Would that be the case?

Ms Harvey : No, I don't think so. We get quite a mix of applications; that's why we're interested in having a look across the first full year of this scheme. We had a half-year after the Watt review was implemented and NISA was announced, and we're just about to complete our first full year of that round, so we are interested to look at the breadth. We'd have to take on notice—I was trying to remember what it was, but it's just escaping me at the moment—some preliminary work that we've done.

Senator KIM CARR: Because you include, as you say, non-commercial applications at the moment.

Ms Harvey : Yes, we do.

Senator KIM CARR: They're not what would be regarded as stock exchange listed businesses, are they?

Ms Harvey : Business also includes the traditional structure of Australian industry, which includes small and medium enterprises. When Professor Thomas was talking earlier, she was talking about not-for-profits. We have our small and medium enterprises. We have the ones that are stock exchange listed, as you mentioned. But we also have some which are from local or state or territory governments as well, as partners.

Senator KIM CARR: That's right, and you even have trade unions that apply for money under this program, don't you?

Ms Harvey : Entities, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: That's right, and you wouldn't want to exclude them from this, would you?

Ms Harvey : We're just looking at where we're getting the applications from and what are the overarching objectives of the scheme, as we do with all our schemes.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you very much. I'd be interested to see what you do with that. On the information in regard to Data61 and Expert Connect, CSIRO, of course, has particular interest here on the online access points. The ARC is listed on the CSIRO website as a foundation partner. I'm just wondering what role you actually play in regard to Expert Connect.

Ms Harvey : What they do is actually look at the data that we produce and that we list on our website. We had discussions with them about how we release information, what the metadata around that is and how they can access the different datasets. So that's what it means when it's talking about being a foundation partner, because we've looked at our data and making that available.

Senator KIM CARR: You were going to get information for me on the other matter I raised before, in regard to the administrative cost of these impact studies. Did you have that available?

Ms Harvey : No.

Senator O'NEILL: There's some movement at the station behind you there.

Senator KIM CARR: Is that right?

Ms Harvey : Sorry, what was your question?

Senator KIM CARR: You were going to get some information for me on the cost of this. Did you want to do anything else?

Ms Harvey : Yes, I think what we were talking about was that we had the $11.2 million across the five years.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes.

Ms Harvey : It's important to note that that's just the profile with regard to that. So far, we've spent approximately $2½ million.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. So the rest is uncommitted?

Ms Harvey : We are in the process of finalising contracts and a whole range of things with our committee members. At the moment, yes, it would be uncommitted, but we're in the process of finalising.

Senator KIM CARR: But you won't be committing beyond this current financial year, will you?

Ms Harvey : Yes, some of ours will cross the next financial year, because the assessment crosses in the calendar year.

Senator KIM CARR: I'll be putting a question down on notice for the department for all uncommitted funds. I just give you notice of that. That would include all the agencies. Thank you very much. I've got some questions for the department on the research program, if I could turn to those.

Senator Birmingham: That concludes the ARC?

ACTING CHAIR: That concludes the ARC.